|Wednesday, 21 February 2018|
Cyprus News Agency: News in English, 11-11-22
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From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>
 President visits Homer drilling rigEfforts to locate possible hydrocarbons in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are progressing very well, President Demetris Christofias said, in statements on a drilling rig, Homer, where exploratory drilling is underway in the Republics Block 12 Aphrodite, south of Cyprus.
According to an official press release, Christofias said his presence on the platform underscores the Republics sovereign rights which, as he pointed out, we are determined to exercise.
After a briefing by Noble officials and a guided tour of the platform, the President said that the issue is of national importance and that is how everyone must address it.
He said an overall strategic plan on pending issues relating to natural gas being piped to land will be drafted.
This is a very important issue. There are issues which will come up when gas reaches the land. A team of experts has been set up, a team of technocrats, and a strategic plan is being drafted which we will have to examine cautiously and discreetly, he noted.
Referring to the Turkish Cypriots, President Christofias wished that this effort will bear fruit and underlined that this also constitutes a challenge for Turkey to change its stance to solve the Cyprus problem the soonest possible and co-exploit the natural resources, in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federal Republic of Cyprus, a single state with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single personality.
The President said that cooperation and agreements the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime has signed with Turkey are illegal, pointing out that the Republic of Cyprus is acting within international law, and that is what we are doing with Noble Energy and with anybody we cooperate with. I therefore wish that Noble Energy will give us the best possible results the soonest possible.
Christofias also said that the second licensing round for hydrocarbons exploration will soon be announced and wished every success to this.
He thanked Noble officials for their presentation, noting that the whole venture is impressive, and wished them luck. He noted that their success is also a success of the Republic of Cyprus.
He noted that he visited the drilling rig to get a personal picture of the entire effort because there is a lot of very serious work to do.``
``This is an effort which - if successful it will ensure the future and prosperity of generations to come,`` Christofias said.
During his visit to the platform, President Christofias was briefed in detail by Noble officials on all aspects of the work being carried out.
President Christofias and his entourage visited the Control Room, the remote operating vehicle and the conference room.
Around 130 people work on the platform. They are employees of Noble Drillings and Noble Energy.
Addressing the employees, President Christofias expressed hope that their search for hydrocarbon reserves or natures gift, as he called it, yields results.
I wish you all the best and I hope we will soon have concrete results, he said.
The name of the platform Homer hails from Homer Ferrrington, one of the founders of the Noble Drillings company.
According to Noble Drillings, Homer has the ability to conduct drillings in a 9,100 meters depth.
Houston-based Noble Energy began drilling in Cyprus EEZ last September.
Cyprus has signed an agreement to delineate the EEZ with Egypt and Israel with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ. A similar agreement was signed with Lebanon but the Lebanese Parliament has not yet ratified it.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 Downer: UN will not arbitrateThe UN has no intention of arbitrating or mediating in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, but will do everything it can to help the two sides build bridges, the UN Secretary General`s Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer said on Monday, after a meeting in Nicosia with President Demetris Christofias.
Downer said he had not seen the President since the Greentree meeting between the UN Secretary General and the leaders of the two communities, ``so it has been good to catch up with him again and to not just talk about the follow-up from Greentree but to start planning the couple of months ahead before we return to Greentree a bit beyond the middle of January.``
He added that he meets with President Christofias on ``a fairly regular basis`` and noted that Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu is currently away and he is planning to meet with him at the weekend.
Asked if he was optimistic about this new phase of talks, Downer said ``it is difficult, we have no illusions about that but we thought, as the Secretary General said, that good progress was made at Greentree and in the lead-up to Greentree.``
 FM: Turkey not an obstacle for EU PresidencyTurkey will not be allowed to use the Cyprus issue as an obstacle on the way to the successful completion of the Cyprus EU rotating Presidency in the second half of 2012, Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou Markoullis has said.
Markoullis was addressing an event organised by the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration and Civil Society Organisation OPEK on the EU Presidency. Despite Turkeys efforts and threats, the Cyprus issue did not become an obstacle to Cyprus EU accession and we will not allow Turkey to use it now as an obstacle for the effective completion of our Presidency, she stressed.
The Cypriot FM added that we will put a stop to any efforts by Ankara to infiltrate in EU procedures or demand unacceptable terms to the Cyprus Presidency. She highlighted the fact that the rotating Presidency is an inalienable right of every member states and an EU institution, adding that no intervention is permitted, particularly by third countries.
Markoullis expressed the wish that the Cyprus issue is resolved before the Cyprus EU Presidency begins, adding however that Turkish continued intransigence during the ongoing UN led negotiations has left little room for optimism.
 Cyprus areas in expanded Natura 2000Natura 2000, the EU`s network of protected areas, has undergone a significant expansion, including eight countries, one of which is Cyprus. According to a European Commission`s press release, nearly 18,800 square kilometres have been added, including a major addition of marine areas covering 17,000 square kilometres which will increase protection for many endangered marine species.
The network now covers almost 18% of the EU`s landmass and more than 145,000 square km of its seas. The main countries involved in this latest expansion are the UK, France, Belgium, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Lithuania and Italy.
Natura 2000 is a vast network of nature conservation areas set up to ensure the survival of Europe`s most valuable and endangered species and habitats. The network consists of around 26,000 sites, and the latest additions add 166 new sites covering nearly 18,800 square kilometres. More than 90% of the area added is made up of marine sites (17,000 square km), mainly in the UK, but also in France, Belgium, Greece, Cyprus and Italy. The new marine sites will provide a vital refuge for many of Europe`s rarest and most endangered species.
In the Mediterranean, the new sites will improve protection for emblematic species such as the green turtle Chelonia mydas, the loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta and the Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus, which play a key role in the ecosystems they inhabit. The expansions will also increase protection for a range of valuable terrestrial habitats, including peat bogs in Lithuania, salt plains in Hungary, and species-rich chalk grasslands in Italy and Cyprus.
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